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Spain's Ebola nurse unsure how she got it

UP IN ARMS: Spanish police blocking animal rights activists protesting yesterday outside the apartment building of Ebola-stricken nurse Romero. The authorities want to euthanise Ms Romero's dog over Ebola fears. PHOTO: REUTERS
Spain's Ebola nurse unsure how she got it

OVERREACTING? Excalibur barks from the balcony of Ms Romero's apartment.


    Oct 09, 2014

    Spain's Ebola nurse unsure how she got it


    SHE visited the Ebola patient's room only twice. Once to clean the missionary and then to collect materials after his death.

    Yet, that was all it took for Spanish nurse Teresa Romero, 44, to catch the deadly virus.

    She is the first person to contract the disease outside Africa. Her case has sparked fears across the world and put immense pressure on the Spanish health authorities to explain how she came to fall ill.

    Asked by Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo if she knew how she came to contract the virus, she said: "I don't know what to say, I don't have any idea."

    But the nurse, who is being treated in isolation at the Madrid hospital where she worked, told the newspaper she was feeling "a bit better".

    Her husband Javier Limon told the paper in the interview published yesterday that she had been "at home, mainly" after falling ill.

    Ms Romero is believed to have contracted the virus while caring for Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, a missionary who was repatriated from Sierra Leone and died on Sept 25. The nurse started feeling unwell on Sept 30 while on leave but was not admitted to hospital until five days later.

    Officials said they were trying to find out who she came into contact with before being isolated on Monday. They are monitoring 52 people, mostly health staff.

    Yesterday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appealed for calm and pledged to step up efforts to contain the virus as more health staff were isolated for monitoring.

    "Let the professionals do their work, let's trust our professionals," he said in Congress. "What we have to do right now is be alert but stay calm - this is the government's position."

    Two more nursing workers have been admitted to hospital for isolated monitoring after complaining of low fevers, a spokesman for the La Paz-Carlos III hospital said. They join the nurse, her husband, who is being monitored but has no symptoms, and another nurse whose initial tests for Ebola were negative.

    Mr Limon told El Mundo that he was feeling "perfectly well", although he is reportedly distraught that health officials want to put his dog down because of fears over transmission.

    The Ebola virus jumps to humans from infected animals including chimpanzees, gorillas and bats. Human infections have not been linked to dogs, according to International SOS, which provides emergency services to companies.

    But Fernando Simon, coordinator of the centre of alerts and emergencies at Spain's health ministry, told COPE radio station that "action must be taken".

    The news has prompted animal rights campaigners to try to save the life of 12-year-old Excalibur, a light-brown mixed-breed which was adopted by the couple when it was a puppy.